Having just returned from our skydive in Wanaka, Meagaan and I tackled another big challenge, the same morning: the Ledge Bungy in Queenstown. Because one adrenalin activity before breakfast just isn’t enough!
One would think one would be desensitised to heights after a 45-second freefall from 12,000 ft. We boarded the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown only a couple of hours later, and our hearts raced as we were being pulled higher and higher above Queenstown, partially because of the breathtaking views from our little gondola, and of course out of pure anticipation of what we were about to do. Nonetheless, the views from the gondola were quite a treat:
The AJ Hackett Ledge Bungy is located on Bob’s Peak, 400m above Queenstown. I had bungy jumped twice before – once, completely terrified at Kawarau Bridge, the first commercial bungy, just outside Queenstown, and a second time at the same site, with a much more relaxed attitude (and knees). The second jump left me with a feeling of “Huh”. I had tremendously enjoyed myself, but I knew I needed to turn it up a notch for the next jump. What better way to do that than with the Ledge Bungy!
What makes the Ledge Bungy special?
The Ledge Bungy has three main advantages, in my opinion. First of all, you are strapped in at your waist. Unlike the Kawarau Bridge Bungy or the Nevis Bungy, you are not tied up at your ankles; the bungy cord connects to your harness at your waist instead, meaning you can use your legs to jump in all sorts of ways, creating your own jump style. Second, there is a mini runway for you to take advantage of. You can choose to just jump off from the very edge of the Ledge, or step back a few metres and run out into nothingness, maximising your jump experience. And third, it’s THE bungy with a view. The Ledge is a cantilevered bridge that juts out from the rocks, 400m above Queenstown. It’s got the best of both worlds: breathtaking scenery and the über-fear factor at the same time. Seeing Queenstown from 400m up high, and jumping off of that wonderful viewing platform is quite exciting!
If you’ve done Kawarau and think it gets easier… think again. Having the illusion of falling into water is much more reassuring than the certainty of crushing into rocks and trees. But again, I wanted a challenge.
And so, after reaching the bungy station on Bob’s Peak, I check in for my Ledge bungy. Just like at Kawarau Bridge, I am asked to remove everything from my pockets and step onto the scales. After signing my toe tag, I have a quick chat with the staff, who tell me exactly the opposite of what I wanted to hear:
“It’s definitely scarier than Kawarau Bridge. Most people think they’ll do a specific jump style, but really they just end up falling off!”
With that reassurance in mind, I walk the path of no return, and onto the bungy platform. I am greeted by Mike, who promptly hands me a kiddie harness… great. But on the positive side, it’s tight. Less likely to slip off during my jump… you can see where my inner monologue is going. I put on my harness and sit on the sofa for a wee bit when it starts to sink in that I’d soon have to run off the edge of the wee little platform and look confident for the camera. I had seen so many people jump from the Ledge in countless YouTube videos, imagining how awesome it must be. All I feel at this point is: pure fear. Why would I run off a bridge? When you’re actually on the Ledge, all you see is Queenstown and the lake below you. Far below you. And the mountains ahead of you. Far ahead of you. You don’t care you’re “only” falling 48 metres – you are falling 400 metres in your head.
Time to face the music – and the camera!
AD the jump master comes over and bam!- I am forced to snap out of my increasingly terrified state before it paralyses me. It is time to rise up to the challenge! After a quick reassuring wave from Meagaan, who’s watching from the path we walked down earlier, and some brief instructions from AD, I am standing there in start position. I guess it didn’t really help to talk about the skydive that happened just a couple of hours before while I was being connected to my bungy cord!
Alright, this is it. Just do what AD says. Just run out and jump and enjoy it. No fear. Nerves, you can suck it. Time to get tough!
AD counts me down, and then it’s party time! 5-4-3-2-1 …
And off the Ledge I run, not gracefully jumping out, transforming into the kung fu side-kick style I had planned for, but rather like most people do: run off into nothingness and see what happens! I let out the obligatory scream that seems to be getting longer and longer as I remember how long it takes to fall 48 metres until one feels the bungy kicking in! Does it feel like falling? Pretty much, yes. The longest. Fall. Ever. Where’s my parachute? Oh, wait… wrong sport.
And once it’s there, that reassuring little tug on the harness that eventually slows you down, and makes you bounce back up, it is pure exhilaration. I’m alive! This is awesome! AWESOME! Totally choice.
The rush is extreme. Adrenalin permeates every cell of my body, and I thoroughly enjoy the views over Queenstown. What else is there to do?! Just sit in the harness and relax if you can! The adrenalin will help!
It is over all too soon. Phil lowers the rope I need to clip into my harness, and I’m being pulled back up. A strange sensation – fear rises again as I inch closer and closer to the edge of the platform. Suddenly my brain thinks I’m 400m above Queenstown again, floating, and the only thing keeping me from falling is a kiddie harness and a rope! But I decide to trust the manufacturers of this fine equipment, and the awesome crew of AJ Hackett who have previously prevented me from falling to death at Kawarau Bridge, and all ends well.
Back up on the bridge, as soon as my feet touch the edge, I’m slightly nervous of falling off again. Wouldn’t want that to happen accidentally! Phil takes care of the rest as he secures me to the ledge and disconnects me from my bungy cord. A few metres further, I get rid of my harness, and Meagaan comes over so we can jump up and down together in celebration of successfully completing our latest challenge on the #Blog4NZ fundraising tour for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal:
My word. What a day! Spectacular weather in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, jumping off a bridge with a view… and yes, there was a skydive that same morning, too. But more later on my favourite day in New Zealand!